What Will the Updated Nutrition Facts Panel Mean for the Food Industry?
On May 20, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published updated Nutrition Facts panel regulations for packaged foods. The format and content changes will provide consumers with better and more relevant information about the foods they are purchasing, but these alterations will hit food manufacturers in the pocketbook.
In light of the national epidemic of obesity, the new design emphasizes caloric content and modifies the “Serving size” for many foods to reflect the typical eating habits of Americans who tend to eat more per serving than the old label suggested.
Similarly, FDA has responded to the related spike in diabetes and heart disease by including “Added sugars” as a subcategory under “Total Sugars” on the new panel. In addition, since medical research has noted a shift in the health needs of Americans over the past 20 years, the agency is dropping the requirement to list Vitamins C and A on the label while mandating that information for Vitamin D and potassium appear on the updated nutrition facts panel.
The new rules are also making the information more pertinent and accessible by updating the Daily Values for some nutrients based on the latest scientific evidence.
Impact on Food Manufacturers
If food manufacturers are to comply with the new labeling regulation, they will need to do more than merely print labels that meet the new formatting requirements. The new label calls for more – and, in some cases, different – data, that companies can only obtain through expanded research and analysis of products. Most notably, companies will be required to maintain records to verify declared levels of certain nutrients that cannot be measured by standard analytical methods, such as dietary fibers, added sugars, Vitamin E, and folic acid. Consequently, product testing and product development must adapt to the changes that the new labels will stimulate.
Companies may need to track nutrients they have not before, and may need to retest existing products to comply with labeling changes. Foods may need to be reformulated to be marketable, while the demand for new data will certainly mean the keeping of additional records.
Most foods sold in the U.S. must have the new labeling by July 26, 2018, though smaller companies are granted an additional year to come into compliance. All of this will certainly mean additional costs for food manufacturers, but delaying compliance will cost you more. It is vital that companies begin working toward compliance now. FDAImports.com’s team of experienced consultants and attorneys guides food and beverage companies on all aspects of product labeling. Contact us today to learn more.